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Killings of three Muslim men in Albuquerque may be linked, police say

Written by Javed Iqbal

Albuquerque police are investigating the killings of three Muslim men they say may be connected.

Muhammad Afzaal Hussain, 27, and Aftab Hussein, 41, two Pakistani men who attended the same mosque, were fatally shot within a week of each other, police said. Mr. Hussain, who was killed Monday, was the planning and land use director for the city of Española, about 90 miles north of Albuquerque. Mr. Hussein, who was killed on July 26, worked at a local cafe.

According to the police, a third Muslim man was killed just before midnight on Friday. The identity and age of the latest victim have not been released, although police said he was a “young man” and from South Asia.

Authorities said they believed the latest violence may also be linked to the November 2021 killing in Albuquerque of Mohammad Ahmadi, 62, a Muslim man from Afghanistan. Mr. Ahmadi was killed outside a business he and his brother ran on San Mateo Boulevard, police said.

Authorities did not elaborate on why they believed the killings may be connected and did not say if there were any witnesses to the killings, but they said they believed the Muslim community was targeted.

The Albuquerque Police Department, along with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office, are asking the city’s residents to come forward with any information that may be connected to the killings.

“This is something that affects all of us,” Raúl Torrez, Bernalillo County’s district attorney, said at a news conference Saturday. “Every member of this community needs to stand up.”

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said Saturday on Twitter that the killings were “deeply angering and completely intolerable” and that she was sending more state police officers to assist Albuquerque police and the FBI. She also expressed solidarity with the Muslim community in the state.

“We stand with you,” she said.

Officials at the Islamic Center of New Mexico, still reeling after Friday night’s funeral for Mr. Hussain and Mr. Hussein, said they were shocked to learn of another death the next morning and that the killings have Muslims in the city who fear for their safety.

“We are sickened beyond belief by the idea that someone has so much hatred against innocent people,” said Ahmad Assed, the president of the Islamic Center of New Mexico. “We’re scared for our families, we’re scared for our kids. And we’re incredibly confused as to why this is happening.”

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, the largest nonprofit Muslim civil rights group in the country, said Friday it would offer a $10,000 reward to anyone who could provide information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever is responsible for the killings.

“We’ve really never seen anything like this, where there are multiple similar murders that really seem to be connected,” said Ibrahim Hooper, the national director of communications for the council.

Nihad Awad, the national executive director of the council, said in an interview that tragedies struck not only the Muslim community, but all Americans. “We must stand together against hate and violence regardless of the race, creed or background of the victims or the perpetrators,” he said. “We encourage anyone with information about these crimes to come forward by contacting law enforcement.”

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Javed Iqbal

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